This trail follows the first half of a Level 5+ hike we like to do, but due to difficulties for our bus to get through the villages at the other end we’re going to take a turn in the middle to hike out on a freshly-scouted trail and finish at a more accessible village. This is going to give us a look at some of the older Ming Dynasty-era Great Wall in Beijing, without quite as much of the hard work as the Level 5 version.
This first part of the day’s hike will have us following the Great Wall from west to east as it rolls over hills and ridges; there will not be much flat walking. Many sections are quite dilapidated, so we will detour around these on paths that cross terraces and fields that are worked by local farmers. Looking north, we should have a good view of the Guanting reservoir; looking west we’ll see the Big Camp Plate Great Wall; and way off on a distant peak to the east we may be able to spot the High Tower.
The wall in this part of the mountains is built on high ridges, and because we’ll be on some of the highest of these we’ll get great views of long stretches of Great Wall as we’re walking. Other interesting sights include several round watch towers, a tower made from mud bricks, a ‘water pass’ with extremely steep sections of wall on either side, as well as mysterious valley paths, apricot orchards, a range of vegetation, and a radar station on a far peak.
After going on and off the Great Wall for a few hours the trail will take us up to a bluff which is wrapped by the wall. It’s one of the high points of the hike, and on a clear day the views are spectacular. We’ll stop here for our lunch break.
After lunch we’ll hike just a little bit farther on the wall, and then we’ll get on to trails through the hills that lead down into a valley village. (Exact track to be determined by a scouting trip this week.) The valley village has a mix of houses: some new, fixed up for weekend visitors; and some a lot older, with bricks that look suspiciously similar to those used to build Ming Dynasty-era Great Wall.
We’ll find our bus near the village entrance, have our regular Beijing Hikers hikers picnic, and then head on back to Beijing.